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Discord and Zergs

Tim Eisen Posted:
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In the latest update, Mark Jacobs returned after several days spent wandering the desert to present us with news of Discord within the Camelot Unchained Universe!

“In “hot off the presses” kind of news, I’m pleased to announce that City State Entertainment and Discord have reached an agreement to work together on combining their cutting-edge tech along with that of Camelot Unchained. JB (who was their primary evangelist within the studio) and I talked about this during the End of Week Update here in great detail, but the tl;dr version is that it will help make Camelot Unchained a better and more immersive experience for our players. It will also save time for us in the long term, since CSE doesn’t have to write the code that we would need in order to do the things that they can do already.”

I’ve dabbled in Discord for a few months and have been impressed. I view the app as another step in the evolution of programs like Mumble and Ventrilo. For the few that haven’t heard Discord is a chat and voice app that allows users to form groups and make channels. In an era where many guilds are spread across multiple games Discord allows them a common ground to socialize and organize. Best of all, it’s free, stable and has an organized UI – something MMORPGers will appreciate.

What does that mean? It means using Discord’s GameBridge CSE will save a lot of time setting up a chat system for Camelot Unchained. It also means you can chat in game while out of game through a desktop, laptop, tablet or your smart phone. Best of all it means wherever you are you can have your guild in your pocket!

The other item I want to talk about comes from Ben’s “Dose of Design” in the always epic newsletter. Upon listening to Ben in various streams I had a theory, upon reading his articles it was confirmed. Ben is a max level MMORPG design wizard! His brain is on another level from bar stool devs like myself and his writings are as close as we can come to seeing inside that mind.

He is currently trying to tackle that four-letter word we’ve all yelled out after falling victim to it, ZERG! He has the challenging task of building combat in a game that will feature hundreds of players battling it out while also trying to make it so zerging doesn’t become the only viable option for engaging in said battle.

Thanks to woven features like collision detection, buff/de-buff caps and physics based projectiles (a personal favorite of mine) the advantage of a zerg will already be less than other games we’ve seen. Where combat gets harder to configure is in cases of small groups being attacked by a zerg. To add some balance to this unbalanced situation Ben is planning to utilize “cross-class synergies and situational counterplay options that provide very strong advantages under the right circumstances”.

That translates into something he didn’t say, admit it or not when we zerg we are often less attentive than when we are in a small group. Its ok to admit it, it’s natural – happens to all of us. In a zerg watching a movie while semi-afk works, in a small group that sort of play might result in a total wipe because individual performance is far more important in small groups. Thus, organized focused PVPers will be able to utilize this mechanic to hit hard under zerg situations where as a disorganized zerg in which there may be less focused players will likely not utilize such mechanics.

 “Additionally, there are even some ability features that can specifically cater to being outnumbered, such as damage reflection auras and ability effects that scale in power based on the difference between the number of enemies around compared to the number of allies” I love the idea that some abilities power up as enemy numbers grow. I’d wager these abilities will have some stiff cooldowns, as they should, to help prevent exploitation.

“Although large scale battles are important for us to support, small scale battles will be a far more common part of the day to day experience for most players. This means it is very important for us to ensure that single group versus single group and other small scale encounters are fun and balanced, while remaining consistent with the mechanics necessary for large scale encounters.” This is a relief to anyone worried Camelot Unchained was overly focused on the big battles they are already so proud of. It’s as real of a perspective on MMORPG PPV combat as I’ve seen and it assures us a variety of PVP playstyles are being considered when creating the system.

“Another aspect to consider is audiovisual feedback. The way that we present audiovisual information needs to convey precisely what is going on to as high a degree as possible, so that players can tell what is going on around them without filling up their screens with an overwhelming number of HUD elements.” Considering Camelot Unchained is planning to feature combat with heavy visual and audio indication this is a no brainer but it shows us something many of us on the outside might not even consider. Visual and audio indicators must scale with the combat. It sounds easy but trying to find the balance in a game with several ratios of combat will be as delicate as it is complex. I believe like many aspects of Camelot Unchained the answers that both Ben and fans seek can only be unveiled through time and extensive live testing. His strategy is sound, I can’t wait to watch it evolve throughout testing.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry